Client Successes

Taking Search an Inch Wide and Mile Deep

Business Challenge

Search is the killer app of the Web. GlobalSpec knew it and had toiled eight years building an online database and specialized vertical advertising medium where parts and component manufacturers paid to be discovered by engineers. The dot-com survivor had beaten the odds, growing its registered user base by about 100,000 a year over its first eight years. By late 2003 however, the still largely undiscovered vertical search engine was at risk of being dwarfed by media darling Google, which positioned itself as the only search engine anyone would ever need. GlobalSpec clicked on Tech Image Ltd. to boost recognition, build its user base faster than before and define and lead a new category: domain-specific vertical search.

Background

Engineers and technical buyers often encounter sketchy data at manufacturer Web sites or in bulky paper directories. Search engines are no exception. The results are normally a mile wide and an inch deep. Busy engineers don’t have time to waste. Irrelevant data slows projects and drains budgets. They need to go an inch wide and a mile deep.

GlobalSpec was formed by a few engineers who’d suffered long enough, building a parametrically searchable database containing 78 million parts and components currently marketed by participating suppliers. Then GlobalSpec crawled, filtered and indexed millions of World Wide Web pages for engineering-only content, creating a pioneering site at (www.globalspec.com) called The Engineering Web. It is a domain-specific vertical search engine where engineers can enter an initial technical search term and then continue to probe ever deeper on other terms related to the original term. The site also allows access to the hidden Web by reaching inside firewalls for application notes and standards.

Solution

To achieve its goals, GlobalSpec needed to define a new category, seize ownership of that category, grow its user base, and become the most-discussed example of specialized vertical search. Tech Image began by conducting a messaging session to generate a clear roadmap for executives to use when discussing the company with media and analysts. The sessions produced a powerful value proposition: With Internet search expected to evolve much like television has -- from broadcasting to narrowcasting -- GlobalSpec is the premier example of how a domain-specific search engine meets specialized needs.

The rollout began with a media and industry analyst tour to New York City and Boston, followed by Tech Image’s work to secure interviews on the emerging vertical search engine category. Live desktop demonstrations effectively explained The Engineering Web and helped convince editors and analysts that vertical search “is what’s coming next.” White papers and case studies were placed successfully with engineering- and advertising-focused publications. Satisfied GlobalSpec users and paying suppliers also stepped up to the plate to share their positive experiences.

Results

Tech Image’s contributions helped GlobalSpec grow its user base to 1.7 million from 910,000, a one-year increase in 2004 roughly equal to the combined registered user growth over the site’s first eight years of existence. And annual sales to participating suppliers leaped 65%.

The media tour and aggressive, ongoing media contact work generated 57 online demonstrations over an 11-month period. Extensive coverage of The Engineering Web appeared in Design News, Machine Design, EDN, Sensors, Cadalyst and Desktop Engineering. Advertising publications such as B to B, min’s B2B, DM News and Sales & Marketing Management also covered GlobalSpec, along with national business and information technology media like ComputerWorld, CIO, eWeek, Investor’s Business Daily and Network World.

“I just want to express my continuing delight with what Tech Image is achieving for us … keep it up!” — Jeff Killeen, Chairman & CEO, GlobalSpec

John Battelle, founder of Wired magazine, perhaps best summed up the importance of the category when he wrote how GlobalSpec “allows you to refine your search in ways that simply don’t scale in the Googleverse.” The year-long campaign reached a zenith when GlobalSpec landed on the 2004 eContent 100 list of fast-growing Internet companies. To the company’s delight, what search engine was listed alphabetically immediately after GlobalSpec? Google.

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